By Dr. Gene Getz
Most of us have heard the term “intervention”—and some of the unusual stories that have resulted from this process. One of the most highly publicized involved President Gerald Ford and his wife, Betty. She was an alcoholic—and in total denial—until she faced an “intervention.”
This process involved the whole family. One by one they shared their love for Betty—but shared their deep concern regarding her addiction. Predictably, she initially resisted, denied she had a problem and refused to cooperate. However, “tough love” won out and she went into treatment.
This is a great success story in itself, but it’s even more eventful since she was responsible for founding the Betty Ford Clinic to help a multitude of others who were trapped in their addictive behaviors.
A BIBLICAL PROCESS
It may surprise you that this kind of intervention is a biblical process. Though it has been popularized by those who function primarily in the secular world, their approach—whether they realize it or not—is rooted in Scripture. You see, long before modern psychology refined this process, the apostle Paul wrote about it in his letter to the Galatians. He adds, of course, a spiritual dimension that makes this process even more successful. Let’s take a closer look.
“CAUGHT IN ANY WRONGDOING”
Paul had just outlined “the works of the flesh”—which can result in all kinds of addictive behaviors (Galatians 5:19-21). He then contrasted these sinful actions with “the fruit of the Holy Spirit”—which are a reflection of the life of Jesus Christ (Galatians 5:22-26).
But note the continuity. Paul immediately addressed the problem of addiction, though he doesn’t use this word. Rather, he referred to any person who is “caught in any wrongdoing” (Galatians 6:1a).
To be “caught” does not refer to someone who has been “discovered” but to a person who has been “overtaken” and “entrapped” in some sin—namely, some behavior that Paul described as “the works of the flesh.” Specifically, this could be alcoholism, sexual sin, lying, stealing, or even compulsive acts of sinful anger and abuse.
A SPIRITUAL INTERVENTION
What is Paul’s solution? Using today’s language, this person needs an “intervention”—not by one person, but by several who really care and love the one who is trapped. This is why Paul used the plural pronoun “you.”
But note further that Paul stated that this is a task for those who are “living by the Spirit” and demonstrating the “fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:25-26). Thus Paul wrote—“You who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit” (Galatians 6:1).
Paul then issued a warning. This is not a task for people who are prideful and arrogant. And, as mentioned earlier, it is not a task for one person alone—especially for someone who has had a similar problem. This is why Paul warned that those involved must watch themselves so they are not tempted to engage in the same sin (6:1b). This again is why this is a task for several mature believers who “are spiritual”—those who are reflecting the “fruit of the Spirit.”
I remember one situation where a former drug user tried to help a present drug user overcome his addiction. Sadly, the one trying to help regressed into his old patterns. Paul is warning against this possibility when he says, “you who are spiritual” and even then, those involved in this intervention must be cautious about their own temptations. I know of a pastor who was counseling a woman one-on-one who had serious sexual issues in her marriage. You guessed it! Rather than helping her overcome her problem, he became involved with this woman sexually.
TOUGH LOVE IS NOT EASY
This is not an easy task! In fact, every time I’ve been involved in a biblical intervention, I search my own heart—and encourage others who are involved to do the same. And it’s very time consuming! However, it is a very rewarding effort when those who are trapped in sin are set free.
I wish I could say that this process always works. I’ve seen people walk away saying “thanks, but no thanks.” But I’ve also seen people restored because they’ve responded, entered a Bible based recovery program and were set free from their addictions. Remember, if this basic process works in the secular world, what about in the Christian world where we add this very important spiritual dimension.
The question we all need to face is—do we love others enough to be involved in this kind of biblical intervention?
Editor’s note: To access a video lesson on this “Principle to Live By” by Dr. Gene Getz, click here. You can also find this principle entitled “The Process of Restoration” and QR code on page 1621 in the new “Life Essentials Study Bible” authored by Gene Getz and published by Broadman and Holman.
This article was originally published in Mature Living Magazine.